Is Flipped Learning Effective? What Does Research Say About it?

is flipped learning effective?

Flipped Learning has become a very popular instructional model in the world of education. It is a new and innovative pedagogical approach that focuses on learner-centered instruction.

It is now one of the most popular trends in instruction technology that does not involve new technology; rather it involves changing the way classroom instruction and homework are managed by reversing the traditional method of delivery. In other words, flipped learning is the reversal of traditional pattern of instruction, which used to give students the task of reading textbooks and work on problems sets at home, while listening to lectures and taking tests in class. The strategy is known as flipping the classroom, or also known as backwards classroom, reverse instruction, flip teaching, and reverse teaching.

While flipped learning has become a very popular instructional model, there are many misconceptions/myths surrounding the concept. Before we talk about whether the concept is effective, let's take a look at a few misconceptions/myths and the facts about the term.

Myth: Flipped learning replaces face-to-face teaching.

Fact: Flipped learning optimizes face-to-face teaching.

Flipped learning may replace the idea of lectures in class, but it does not replace teaching. The teacher is there, but through digital portal. With flipped learning, class time is used for active work that focuses on helping students process and assimilate concepts rather than simply listening. This focus lets the instructors to know their students and work with them in a truly face-to-face way.

Myth: Flipped learning is predicated on recording videos for students to watch before a class.

Fact: Flipped learning does not necessarily to be ‘all video’.

There have been instances where videos have been implemented in flipped learning, but there's nothing that says video must be used. In fact, one of the earliest instances of flipped learning — Professor Eric Mazur's peer instruction concept, used in Harvard physics classes — used no video but rather an online text outfitted with social annotation software.

Myth: Flipped learning has no evidence to back up its effectiveness.

Fact: Flipped learning research is growing at an exponential pace and has been since at least 2014.

A research conducted in 2017, which includes results from primary, secondary, and post-secondary education in nearly every discipline, has shown significant improvements in student learning, motivation, and critical thinking skills. For example, a study on the use of flipped learning in an English course and a study on the implementation of flipped learning in a pharmacology course showed students perform significantly better in a flipped classroom.

Likewise, there are several other misconceptions like students work without structure, students work in isolation, or that a flipped learning is an online course. However, the truth is, flipped learning involves students first study the topic by themselves, using content prepared by the teacher or third parties at home, and then apply the knowledge by solving problems and doing practical work in class. The teacher guides the students when they become stuck, rather than just lecturing and making students listen throughout the class. Flipped learning free class time for hands-on work, and allow students to learn by doing and asking questions, instead of just listening to the teacher.

What do you say flipped learning is really effective?

With many people having misconceptions about the term, some prominent advocators of flipped learning have come up with various researches to counter the misconceptions as well as to shed light on the benefits of the new concept. We explain few of the researches below to make you understand the effectiveness of the concept.

According to Bergmann, Overmyer, & Wilie, 2012, flipped learning has the potential to be an effective and beneficial method of education. It said that replacing direct instruction from the class time with video lectures observed outside of the classroom allows for more class time to be used for active learning through activities, discussion, student-created content and problem solving, inquiry-based learning, and project-based learning.

Another research (Tucker 2012) lays emphasis on establishing a classroom environment which uses collaborative and constructivist learning; blended with the direct instruction used outside the classroom. It said that when constructivist learning takes place in a flipped classroom, students gain knowledge through direct personal experiences such as activities, projects, and discussions.

Research by Minhas, Ghosh, & Swanzy, 2012; Sams, 2013, said the frequency of personal experiences can be increased in a flipped classroom through the use of activities, creating students who are active learners (learning by engaging in analysis, synthesis, and evaluation) rather than passive learners (learning by the absorption of information from hearing, seeing, and reading).

Another study, conducted by Toto and Nguyen, said making students watch a 30-minute video lecture prior to going to class gives additional free time in class, which was spent using real-world tools and engaging in practical applications. It said this increased student engagement. Additionally, this gives students more opportunities to gain a sense of how the tools and ideas they were leaning on are used in the real world.

So what does the research say about the effectiveness of flipped learning?

Student learning outcomes: It is said that flipped learning students either score higher than those in traditional settings, or else the differences are not statistically significant. In other words, it is said that when flipped learning students outperform traditional students, the effect is usually fairly modest. The research further said that only rarely students in flipped learning perform significantly worse.

Student engagement: Flipped learning is said to be strongly correlated with improved class meeting attendance. One study has reported an increase from 30% attendance to 80% between traditional and flipped sections.

Student preferences between flipped learning and traditional approach: Interestingly, research said that students tend to show higher satisfaction with flipped learning than with traditional methods. It is said that students like the fact that flipped learning gives them more time for group work, more experience with communicating their ideas, more interaction with their friends, more attention from the instructor, and a heightened sense of ownership and empowerment.

Other Benefits of Flipped Learning as Pointed out by Researchers

Improvement in Student–Teacher Interaction: Advocates of the flipped learning, like Bergmann and Sams, 2012, claimed the practice helps improve student–teacher interaction. In their study, they pointed out that when teachers aren't standing in front of the classroom talking at students, they can circulate and talk with students. They further pointed out that if teachers use the strategy, they are likely to better understand and respond to students' emotional and learning needs.

Opportunities for Real-time Feedback: Advocators of flipped learning also assert that increased student–teacher interactions give teachers more opportunities to provide feedback to students. These increased opportunities for feedback will help improve student learning. 

Student Engagement: Another claimed benefit of flipped learning is that it speaks the language of today's students, who are accustomed to turning to the web and social media for information and interaction. There may also be another deeper reason students find video lectures more engaging.

Self-paced Learning: Putting lectures online enables students to pace their own learning according to their needs. Potentially, flip teaching allows the teacher to upload an entire year or semester's worth of lectures online, enabling students to accelerate through the curriculum if they are ready.

More Meaningful Homework: In current practice, homework often appears ineffective in promoting learning. But in flipped learning, it alters the nature of homework by making students practice and apply their learning in the classroom under the watchful eye of the teacher (Bergmann & Sams, 2012; Greenberg, Medlock, & Stephens, 2011). Also, Beesley and Apthorb (2010) has found that targeted, in-class opportunities for students to practice their skills with corrective teacher feedback had an effect size nearly four times that of homework, in which teachers had few opportunities to monitor students during their practice.

Meanwhile, despite all the above claims, there's still no direct scientific research to establish how well flipped learning works or whether the approach increases student learning. While some preliminary non-scientific data has suggested that the model producing certain benefits, it is said that more deeper research is needed to know on what basis implementation of flipped learning explicitly benefit teaching and learning in comparison to the traditional mode of teaching.

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About the Author
Author: Saniya Khan
Saniya Khan I am Saniya Khan, Copy-Editor at EdTechReview - India’s leading edtech media. As a part of the group, my aim is to spread awareness on the growing edtech market by guiding all educational stakeholders on latest and quality news, information and resources. A voraciously curious writer with a dedication to excellence creates interesting yet informational pieces, playing with words since 2016.

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